300 yards east of Culloden Battlefield & a short distance from Inverness, Scotland is a well preserved marvel from the Bronze Age: the Clava Cairns.
The site is home to passage graves, ring cairns & standing stones.
Cairnes are structures made of stacked stones, like the image shown above. Cairns can be found littered around the world & each has a unique history.
There are many theories about the function of the Scottish Cairns from the Bronze Age. Were they tombs? Ceremonial sites for the winter solstice? Holy ground used for a mixture of rituals & ceremonies?
While we may never know the answers to those questions, we do know a little about the Clava Cairns near Inverness, Scotland. The North-East & South-West Cairns are both aligned with the setting sun on the winter solstice.
On the shortest day of the year, the setting sun aligns perfectly with the entrance to the Cairns & illuminates the interior of the building. The stones directly facing the passage of the North-Eastern Cairn are made with mainly quartz, which causes the stone structures to glow as the winter sun sets.
Being able to travel to the Scottish Highlands & visit an ancient Stone Circle was a dream come true for me. It's nerdy, but ever since reading the Outlander saga by Diana Gabaldon, I have been wanting to visit the Highlands & explore the mysterious Standing Stones that sprinkle the United Kingdom.
This is a great place to let your imagination run wild & speculate the purpose of these old structures. If you ever get a chance to travel to Inverness, Scotland I recommend visiting the standing stones there. They are a close to Culloden Battlefield & it is a relaxing way to bookend the trip after an emotional morning. Entrance to both Culloden & the Clava Cairns is free.
All images & content by: Elizabeth Aley